NICK RHEINBERGER :  It is alleged by the government that there are strongly held, sincere options on both sides, that’s fair enough. And that we can a peaceful debate. On the other hand we've seen people like Penny Wong saying it's going to whip up hatred, this whole debate, this whole postal plebiscite. We've seen it just yesterday with the Member for Whitlam Stephen Jones, who was one of the major proponents of same-sex marriage legislation for quite some time. On his twitter feed yesterday he put up a pretty disturbing piece of what he called 'fan mail'. And he is here with us now at 96.3 ABC Illawarra. Stephen Jones, good morning. Continue reading


STEPHEN JONES: It's great to be here on the central coast with the joint select committee with my parliamentary colleagues Senator Deb O'Neill, Senator Anne Urquhart, also joined here by Josh Wilson, who is the deputy chair, but also Emma McBride, the member for Dobell - she's a big advocate on the issues of NBN.   Continue reading

ABC Interview: Skybridge Whistleblower and NBN safety issues

E&OE TRANSCRIPT RADIO INTERVIEW ABC AM THURSDAY, 25 MAY 2017   SUBJECTS:  Skybridge Whistleblower and NBN safety issues Continue reading

Australian Education Amendment Bill 2017

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (16:45): This is a sad day. It is a sad day for the parliament and a sad day for the country because today the government has asked the parliament to approve its plan to downgrade the aspiration for Australian students, their education and the country—like the government abandoned its plans for jobs and growth in last week's budget. It is a very sad day indeed. Continue reading

Ann Sudmalis needs to fight for Gilmore Schools

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (13:45): A few moments ago this parliament was entertained by a shameful attack on the member for Cunningham by the member for Gilmore. The reason for this attack? The member for Cunningham was sticking up for schools in her electorate and students throughout the country—something that the member for Gilmore should be doing herself. I know that the member for Gilmore is very fond of 'fudge analogies'. Well, I call on the member for Gilmore to stop fudging the figures when it comes to school education. We know that the cuts in education are harming students across the country and in her electorate. In fact, $19 million is being ripped out of the schools in her very own electorate because of decisions of her government. Nowra East Public School will lose $1.3 million. Bomaderry High School will lose about $650,000 and Bomaderry Public School will lose $736,000. These are not wealthy areas; they are some of the poorest areas on the South Coast. Continue reading

Mobile Blackspot Program Politicised

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (19:33): It is unparliamentary to refer to a person in this place as a liar, and out of deep respect to you, Deputy Speaker Coulton, and the rules of this place, I will not do it, but the persistent indifference to the truth that has just been displayed by the member for Durack and the mover of this motion, the member for Capricornia, really does test the patience of every Labor member of the House. They persistently show their ignorance when it comes to the engineering requirements of mobile phone telephony in this country when they peddle the lives and indifference to truth about how this program has been rolling out and about Labor's contributions to mobile black spot funding in the past. Continue reading

Workers need higher wages

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (16:32): Today I am calling on the government to schedule a debate in this House about wages. If they will not do it, I will, because wages growth in this country is at an all-time low. At 1.9 per cent in 2016 and less in the last quarter, wages growth is barely keeping pace with the cost of living. That is, wages are going backwards and this government does not have a plan to do something about it. There is no good news in this budget for the average Australian worker. In fact, you have never seen a more pessimistic outlook from this government—nearly 95,000 fewer jobs in the economy at the end of the forward estimates and wages looking anaemic. Continue reading

Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (11:03): I am delighted to be talking about a serious matter—a matter that has not been discussed enough in this parliament and certainly not in this term—and that is the plight of vulnerable workers in Australian workplaces, in the Australian economy. The Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017 has a long history. In 2005 the ABC Four Corners crew ran an investigation into the exploitation of workers; 7-Eleven, an iconic business, became famous for all the wrong reasons. We heard allegations on that program of dodgy books, blackmail and the systematic underpayment of workers. The workers affected were vulnerable workers, often young students and foreign workers—people on working visas. We discovered that it was not an oversight but a business model. It was not an oversight by the company; it was a business model. And the only reason that 7-Eleven could continue to operate in that way was that their business model that systematically exploited workers ensured that those workers were underpaid thousands and thousands of dollars. It is bad enough that this occurred in an iconic Australian business, but that this problem is so rampant in the Australian economy deserves much more attention in this parliament. Continue reading

My Budget Response in Parliament

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (13:58): When you drop $50 billion in tax cuts to the big end of town in your budget, you do not have a lot of dough left over to do the things that matter to ordinary Australians. Continue reading

Fighting for Dave McLachlan in Parliament

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (13:47): This evening there is going to be a lot of talk about creating jobs, but today I am asking for the support of this parliament to save a bloke's job. The guy's name is Dave McLachlan. He is a coal miner, 48 years of age, who supports his family and who has worked for 32 years in the industry. By my calculation, that means he went down the pit at the age of 16. He has an unblemished record on the job. He is the sort of bloke that politicians love to get their photo taken alongside during an election campaign in their safety kit and their hard hats. Well, now Dave needs your support. Continue reading